Question: I just finished business school. Can you please talk about exchange and how to give and receive an honest no in business dealings?
Eckhart: Yes. Whether it’s business or something else, the question is always whether the transcendent dimension is still operating in the background, while in the foreground you talk about business. If the transcendent dimension is not there, then business becomes problematic and self-seeking. This even interferes with what could be a much more efficient way of doing business. By seeking some advantage through the other person or company, a lot of dysfunction comes into business.
It’s probably easier to give an actual example. Let’s say you want to sell something. In selling something, you’re always relating to another human being. You discuss the sale on a practical level. That needs to be discussed. You explain what you have to offer and the other person listens or asks questions, so you explain more. The question is then, can you sense with empathy? Can you feel or sense the consciousness which animates the other human being, the consciousness behind the words? Can you feel the essence of that person? You sense the shared consciousness of you and the other. If the other person becomes to you, instead, a means to an end, there are negative feelings. You see that with many people. When the deal is not going to be reached, they get angry and negative. They were not interested in you as a being. They were only interested in you as the role, because, through that, they were seeking something to enhance their role.
Those that are very successful, even in business, tend to be those who are not primarily interested in the outcome of their particular role-playing, but are truly interested in the human being. They enjoy being with someone else. What that really means is that you can only enjoy being with the other person when you transcend the limitations of your personal selfhood, in other words, reach the transcendent dimension. Now that’s in any relationship, whether it’s an intimate relationship, business relationship, any relationship. Is the transcendent dimension there? That is the question.
I’ve occasionally met people in business who want to sell you something and you say, “No, I’m not interested. I’m going to look at some other of your competitors.” Their response is, “That’s fine. Do have a look around.” They truly don’t mind, because they love interacting with other humans. People actually come back to them. They enjoy the interaction in the present moment without making you into a means to an end.
In business, bring the transcendent dimension into the relationship and the fear that they might cheat you isn’t there anymore. Being suspicious is an important part of the egoic sense of self. If you live in presence, you don’t even question people’s motivations. You just look and you speak. You don’t care what their motivations are. I’m always surprised when people talk about people’s motivation. I’m never seeing that. Maybe they’re right, but I don’t see it. I don’t want to see it.